How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the Middle East

Business goes on as the pandemic rages

Transitioning between the Trump and Biden administrations in the US is not easy.  President Donald Trump refuses to concede to President-elect Joe Biden. Consequently, he has been trying to overturn election results, especially in key states such as Arizona, Georgia and Michigan, and resorting to all sorts of conspiracy theories. Most of his claims have been overturned. What Trump does next is anybody's guess but we know that whatever happens will be in Trump's own interest.

Certainly, there are countries in the Middle East that President Trump has served well. This is just as well, since it has been a time when they must navigate through the mess that is the coronavirus pandemic.Some countries have done better than others. This article explains how countries in the region are doing.

WHO says lack of masks, distancing contributing to virus spread in Middle East

by Al Monitor staff.

The WHO's regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean said the number of infections in the area could be higher than reported.

A top World Health Organization official said today that the Middle East is far from defeating COVID-19.

Ahmed al-Mandhari, the WHO's regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said people in the region are not adhering to health measures aimed at mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

"Preventative measures that we know work well and work now, including mask use, are still not being fully practiced in our region," Mandhari said during a press briefing Thursday. "Physical distancing, which is one of the most effective ways to prevent transmission, is not strictly followed."

The WHO's Eastern Mediterranean region includes countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Mandhari provided a bleak outlook for the area, blaming an "overreliance" on lockdowns. Countries that removed these total bans on nonessential movement did not institute adequate health measures after opening back up, he said.

"The increases we are seeing now are clearly a result of the easing of lockdown and restrictions," he said.

"But lockdowns can only limit transmission to a certain extent," added Mandhari, who called for the governments and civilians to wear masks and to practice social distancing in the absence of lockdowns.

Three countries with particularly bad COVID-19 outbreaks are Iran, Jordan and Morocco, which are collectively responsible for 60% of the region's infections over the past week, he said.

Iran has been perhaps the hardest-hit country in the Middle East by the pandemic. The government announced the development of a rapid test this week as the number daily cases continue to break records. Jordan had early success in containing the virus, but is now experiencing a major outbreak. Morocco is pushing a nationwide vaccination campaign to contain the spread. Lebanon also recently returned to lockdown after cases continued to rise rapidly.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the region could also be much higher than is reported by countries' health ministries, Mandhari has said. "Health partners remain concerned about the persistent under reporting of COVID-19 cases in countries experiencing conflict and war," he told Al-Monitor in an interview earlier this month.

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Thursday, 27 January 2022